New Year’s Eve At The Shady Grove 12.31.1981

This was Parousia’s end-of-the-year gig on the most ultimate party night ever created in the history of partydom, New Years Eve.

Parousia: A New Years Eve Kiss from the Angel of Death?

Parousia: A New Years Eve Kiss from the Angel of Death?

It fell on a Thursday night this year which marked the start of a long holiday weekend.  The college students were well into winter break and other folks working for a living had the night-off with no worries about work again until next Monday, allowing a minimum of three-nights in a row to party.  These parties were abundant with all types of liquid libations not to mention other forms of mood-altering inspiration …and that was A-OK by us.


We knew this was going to be a good show with a nice sized crowd as long as no ‘misfortunes’ were to strike… which there hadn’t been any lately, which was unusual … but to be truthful, I was uneasy for a bigger reason.

Earlier in the evening back at the Music Mall, there were grumblings from Garth about quitting the band and those words fell particularly hard on me… not only would it be a major challenge to find another guitarist who could play as well as Garth but I knew from experience that when one major player leaves a band, it starts a chain reaction.

Surely we would lose his brother Keith as a roadie. Our keyboardist Eric Scheda would go with him as would our bass-player Bob Lowden and head roadie Dave Styn.  That would have put Patt, my brother and I back in the position we were in more than two years ago.

The thought of losing all that sparked a lot of anxiety in me because what else did I have in my life as spiritually satisfying as the band?  …my career as a stock boy at Tops Friendly Markets?  Granted I had been with both Parousia and Tops since the mid-seventies but what would my casual conversations with the girls I knew be like now? Something like:

GIRL: “Hey hi Ger, what’s new?” 

ME: “Oh hey there, hi. Well, the band broke up recently…” 

GIRL: “Oh wow, so whatcha’ doing now?” 

ME: Well, uh I’m really focusing on my career as a stock boy at Tops. I see a lot of potential there…” 

GIRL: “Oh, really?  Well, let me know how you make out with that. Bye”

ME: “yeah, ok, hey do you want to get… ok Bye”.

Why just the thought of having Tops Supermarket as my whole life made me clinically depressed.  This couldn’t be the end…  Parousia had so much more to accomplish, new songs to write and venues to perform in all across the U.S., but I understood Garth’s frustration.


Garth was sick to death of performing the same classic rock tunes over and over again.  Garth said and I quote, “If I have to play ‘Rebel Rebel’ just one more time I’m gonna’ flip out.”  It was true; we were stuck in a hellish pattern of our own making.

We wanted to perform all the time and make money as musicians, but to be successful in the club circuit a band was expected to play songs that people knew well. That meant we had to sneak-in an original song every now and then and hoped that someone in the audience would like it enough to request it the next time we played there.

Another factor that was ripping at the band was that we were playing farther and farther out of our home town, Buffalo.  Just go to our ‘EVENTS’ page and take a look at where else we were playing at this time in our history, go ahead, I’ll wait……………………………………………… there you see?

We were playing in the ‘stix’… no-man’s land… places like Chaffee, Holland, Hamburg, Olean, Boston, Alden, Franklinville and Jamestown! Ok, to be fair Jamestown wasn’t a hick town, and was a very cool place to play, (being the birthplace of Natalie Merchant and the band 10,000 Maniacs), but it was still a very very long way for us to drive. We played only once or twice each month close to home, like Dad’s Café or Plant-6 or the ‘Teen-Age Hot Spot’ in Depew.


Well, like a good team player Garth managed to bury his frustration for a while… I mean it wasn’t our fault we didn’t play in or near the city of Buffalo all that often. That ostracization came from “the man”. The man in this case being Great Lakes Booking Agency, StarStruck Productions and J.R. Productions; at the time, they were the big-music industry muscle around town. They had a strangle-hold on the Buffalo music scene that was mafia-like in its scope and execution.

First, they signed all of the big-name bands in the area to exclusive contracts. Bands like Talas, Cock Robin, Weekend, The Road, Cheeks, Fat Brat, Light Years, Junction West, etc… Then they would tell the club owners, “Ok, here’s how it works… if you wanna’ have our bands perform in your club, you won’t hire any other bands outside of our agency Capeche?  Well, the club owners did just that.  The club and the agency goons made pant-loads of money.

There were some clubs, like Uncle Sam’s, Stage-1 and After Dark who said F-U to that arrangement. Those places brought in national acts and didn’t need Starstruck or J.R. to fill their seats or dance floors. As for all the other “rogue clubs” like Nietchies, the Continental and McVan’s they were relegated to punk-rock and new-wave bands and although Parousia was sometimes confused with being a punk-band (thanks to ‘Miss Ogyny’ on the 97 Rock album and our numerous appearances at McVan’s), in reality our music was better defined as ‘album oriented’.  We performed songs like no other band could, like ‘Cross-Eyed Mary’ by Jethro Tull, ‘Hocus Pocus’ by Focus, ‘Perpetual Change’ by Yes, ‘Second Coming’/ ‘the Ballad of Dwight Fry’ by Alice Cooper, ‘Toronto Tontos’ by Max Webster and our own Zappa-like original song, “Myron”.

Buff Backstage

So if this were to be the end, it was a lot to give up… and if we did, we would be starting all over again. Finding new musicians, building and learning a new set of songs and pulling together all the necessary equipment to make a show happen. It would take a year or more before any of us would be off and running again.

March Buffalo Backstage mag_1981

When we finally got to the Shady Grove to load-in it was freezing inside.  As usual, the club manager hadn’t turned on the furnace. This was typically done to save money.  The furnace would usually be turned on closer to show time just before the first customers came through the doors.

Gregg Filippone was doing sound that night. I remember he ran the snake cable from the stage back to the sound board and left the cable draped over the furnace. Of course Gregg had fully intended to move it before the furnace was turned on but then he forgot and it wasn’t long before the room started to smell like burning plastic. Sure enough the club manager turned on the heat earlier than expected and the snake melted to the furnace exposing the wires and making it useless.

Well, it was the snake owned by us, the band, which really sucked, now we had no choice but to send someone back to Buffalo to get Gregg’s snake at his house.  That someone was our loyal and dependable head roadie, Dave Styn who was a super-trooper and drove all that way on icy December roads to fetch Gregg’s cable-snake. Anyway, Gregg knew he would have to pay us to get the snake fixed and that kind of soured his mood for a while until later when he was able to alter his attitude backstage.

About an hour and a half later Dave returned with snake in hand (No I don’t mean it that way)…  Finally we were ready to connect the snake to the sound board and plug-in the microphones. We had no time to do a full sound-check but fortunately we had already played the Shady Grove three times before and knew how the sound played out in the room.   By this time we had about 20-minutes to kill before hitting the stage to start the New Years celebration a-rockin. We all piled into the dressing room above the bar to chill out.


I was still pretty worried and anxious, it had been a very stressful day with snakes burning and talks of band members quitting.  Garth and his girlfriend Nikki were doing this trendy thing called ‘whippets’ and they were having a good time with it. Well, they saw the distressed look on my face and Nikki said, “Ger, you have got to calm down man, everything will be ok”.

And there it was…I was offered my first hit of the whippet balloon… I thought “what the heck” I needed to do something to relax, and after all it was New Years Eve, the night for fun and life-changing events, right?  So, I inhaled with all my might and just as I held my breath, the manager shouts to us from the bottom of the stairs, “five minutes”…

My head felt like it was in another universe… I couldn’t move. I heard a high-pitched whining sound in my ears and everyone was laughing at me in muffled distant voices like a tripped out episode of the Twilight Zone …. I heard them reverberating in my head “HeeHEEhee HAhaHA HoHOho, look at Gerry” He can’t walk

I was so high; I could barely get down the stairway much less find the stage.  Somehow I made it behind my drum kit but everything was still spinning…  We started the show with the song “I’m Free” by The Who, a song that begins with slow simple strumming then the drums and guitars come in crashing.  As soon as I began playing the rhythms, I felt fine, I felt good, nothing like a bit of Keith Moon to get my ass going and besides, if ol’ Keith could play it high, I could too… (Although Mr. Moon had the help of the “band doctor” who injected stimulants into Keith’s ankles while he was still playing the drums) hey… adrenaline and caffeine were working fine for me.

Shady Grove financial statement 12.31.1981

Shady Grove financial statement 12.31.1981

We did a great show that night in spite of the earlier problems… we did not play ‘Rebel Rebel’ in respect of Garth’s feelings because we didn’t want him to “flip out”… at least, not at a gig that paid us $570.00 for the night.   We booked the gig at $400.00 plus door and because we pulled in a nice crowd, we made an extra $170.00.

Expenses for the night were mostly normal. Gregg and Mike ran sound and lights and that cost us $80.00. We paid Dave Styn, head roadie, $40.00 (because of his outstanding help in resolving the snake situation). The other roadies were paid $40.00 collectively.

The truck rental cost $81.00, Barry got $10.00 for gas and Backstage Productions snagged another $60.00 in booking commission.  For some reason I’m not sure why we paid $13.00 for “newspaper” (Our code word for drugs and alcohol perhaps?).

Expenses ran us a total of $324.00, so we used $55.00 to pay rent at The Music Mall.  All said and done we took home a nice profit of $121.00. Not a bad financial start for the New Year.

Location of the Shady Grove, Old Rte.219, Boston, NY

Location of the Shady Grove, Old Rte.219, Boston, NY

1 comment for “New Year’s Eve At The Shady Grove 12.31.1981

  1. Gregg Filippone
    June 18, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I did live sound for most of these early Parousia gigs after John McGovern left the band. We did enough shows that I really don’t remember most of them unless something unusual happened. The mic snake falling into the Fireplace at the Shady Grove is one I recall. The mic snake was drapped over the Fireplace (live fire) and at some point before the show, it fell into the fire. Somebody went back to North Buffalo to my parents garage to get my spare snake. The mic snake burned (“melted” is a better word) about 10-15 feet from the end with the XLR connectors that go into the mic mixer. I remember repairing the snake and using it for years after that (of course it was now an 85 foot snake). Gerry and Garth, great job on the website. Amazing amount of content. Things that I have forgotten about (imagine that!). I will post some more in the coming days. Another specific show I remember is when I got stuck in the service elevator (Gerry tells me it was Daemen College). I’ll see what else jogs my memory as I go through the website. -Gregg Filippone

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